Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top 10 for 9/15

1) Alabama Crimson Tide (beat No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies 49-42 at College Station)
Alabama now has a clear shot to the national title game. They are better than anyone in the SEC that they will face all year and just proved that they can win any style game. Defense be damned, let the offense steal the show. Alabama's defense gave up 628 yards of total offense. I honestly don't even know how much farther ahead of the next most yards Nick Saban has ever surrendered that ranks. While their defense did allow a tremendous amount of yards, they managed to force Manziel into two interceptions. But the real story is with the offense, which racked up over 560 yards itself. McCarron was on fire for 334 yards and four touchdowns while completely eliminating mental mistakes. DeAndrew White and TE OJ Howard both stepped up to take pressure off of Amari Cooper and combined for 7 catches, 180 yards and a touchdown. TJ Yeldon was unstoppable on the ground, rushing for 150 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Fellow sophomore back Kenyan Drake also produced 50 yards and a touchdown and showed good burst and elusiveness which will be crucial in giving Yeldon a breather. It is amazing what Saban did after one disappointing game and two weeks to prepare.

2) Ohio State Buckeyes (beat California Golden Bears 52-34 in Berkeley)
34 points is the only thing that is really marring this victory. The defense gave up 500 total yards, 370 of which came through the air. Cal QB Jared Goff played a great game and was very effective with the play action, but he was forced into one interception by Christian Bryant. Meyer is still trying to mold a young offensive front, and if he can get them going, the defensive backs should benefit greatly from increased pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The real stars of the show for Ohio State were on offense, where Kenny Guiton replaced injured Braxton Miller and had a fantastic day. He threw for three touchdowns on their first three possessions and ended the day with another and 276 yards. Devin Smith and Philly Brown were absolutely torching Cal's cornerbacks, and Guiton showed a lot of touch on the deep passes to them. He also contributed 92 yards on the ground out of the total 332 rushing yards. Jordan Hall continues to look impressive this year as he rolled again for over 150 yards and had three rushing touchdowns. Braxton comes back from injury next weekend against Florida A&M, so I imagine this offense continuing to see just what it is capable of.

3) Clemson Tigers (idle this week; next game at NC State Wolfpack)

4) Stanford Cardinal (beat Army Black Knights 34-20 in West Point)
20 points might seem like a lot to surrender against Army, but it was really only 13 until they scored with less than 30 seconds left. Army runs a crazy triple option scheme, so giving up over 250 rushing yards to them really isn't that big of a deal either. The continued development of their young quarterback is their most important objective, and he again played well in this game. Hogan did throw an interception, but otherwise took care of the ball and threw for three touchdowns and 188 yards on 11 completions. Coach Shaw will continue to put him in a position to manage the game and not force to him into situations he doesn't have the experience to handle. Hogan is developing a strong rapport with receiver Ty Montgomery, who was responsible for most of Hogan's production (6 catches, 130 yards, 1 TD). Having a security blanket in Montgomery will help Hogan's progression in this offense immensely. Running back Tyler Gaffney is still putting up big numbers, this week rushing for 130 yards and a touchdown while also catching one as well. The offensive output is about 50-50 right now which will be the key for their future success or failures.

5) Oregon Ducks (beat Tennessee Volunteers 59-14 at home)
Just read everything I wrote last week. Their offense is insane and they will continue to put up huge numbers until they play UCLA or Stanford that fields a somewhat competent defense. What is really impressive is how good the defense is. If they can catch up to even a fraction of how good the offense is, they could be a serious title contender.

6) Louisville Cardinals (beat Kentucky Wildcats 27-13 in Lexington)
Finally, a little competition for Louisville. Bridgewater had his worst statistical day of the year, throwing for 250 yards and one touchdown on 57% passing. Kentucky has marginally better athletes than anyone Louisville has faced thus far, so this is mildly concerning. That is mostly overshadowed by the emergence of the running game. Three players got at least 11 carries and together they were able to produce over 200 rushing yards. They were led by Sinorise Perry who ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 carries. Michael Dyer also rebounded from last week, rushing for 62 yards on the same amount of carries. The defense also stepped up to a bigger challenge than what they've faced so far. They held the two Kentucky QBs to under 50% and only 214 yards. If this is any indication of the extent of Louisville's competition this year, the Cardinals are all but guaranteed to go undefeated.

7) LSU Tigers (beat Kent St. Golden Flashes 45-13 at home)
Jeremy Hill enjoyed his return to starter as he accumulated 117 and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries. He was the catalyst to this win, scoring both times in the first quarter to ensure this game wouldn't have any chance of an upset. Junior back Terrence Magee also had an unprecedented impact, rushing for 108 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries. Altogether, this team rushed for 307 yards and tacked on another 264 through the air as Mettenberger followed up a career performance last week with another great outing this week. He only needed 13 passes to get 264 yards and also added three more touchdowns of his own. Odell Beckham Jr. was on the receiving end of five of those passes and a touchdown while Jarvis Landry had another 4 catches and the other two touchdowns. These two are finally forming the dynamic receiving core that Les Miles envisioned when he recruited them. They should be able to stand up to most secondaries they will face the rest of the year. If they can continue to play at this high of a level, LSU can give A&M and maybe even Alabama a real run for the SEC West.

8) Georgia Bulldogs (idle this week; home against North Texas Mean Green)

9) Florida State Seminoles (beat Nevada Wolf Pack 62-7 at home)
I know it is only Nevada, but good God. The Seminoles rushed for a total of 377 yards, primarily utilizing four running backs who each had a touchdown as well. This stable of running backs will be very valuable if redshirt freshman Jameis Winston begins to actually look like a redshirt freshman. So far, he has lived up to the hype as he continued his outstanding play, this week throwing for 214 yards, two touchdowns and a pick on 15-18 passing. He has more touchdown passes (6) than incomplete passes (5) through his first two games as a starter. I know they haven't played stellar competition in his first games, but he looks to be the real deal and could even establish himself as one of the best by the end of the year. Receivers Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene have been instrumental to those statistics. They have been able to get open coming out of their breaks and also have the speed to get into space, giving Winston easier throws to get him acclimated to this offensive system. The defense looked great too, holding Nevada to just a shade over 200 total yards. Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has done a fine job of replacing the lost talent along the defensive line. If he can keep getting pressure out of young sophomore defensive ends Mario Edwards and Giorgio Newberry, the Seminoles will really push Clemson for the Atlantic Division.

10) Michigan Wolverines (beat Akron Zips 28-24 at home)
I should honestly just drop Michigan out of the top 10. They were mere minutes away from having another Appalachian State-esque loss on Saturday. Devin Gardner took a step back after a terrific game against Notre Dame last week. He completed only 16 of his 30 passes and while he had two touchdowns, through three picks against a drastically inferior defense. He did make some things happen with his legs which propelled them to victory, but his mistakes put the team in a bad spot in the first place. You can't depend on him to be consistent which is going to drive Brady Hoke mad. The offensive line also needs to start doing a better job of opening up running lanes. Toussaint only managed a meager 71 yards on 19 carries while freshman Derrick Green was again inexplicably held out of the game. If Michigan can't improve next week against UConn, they could be in real trouble when B1G play starts.

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